Press Statement: Medical Interns Issue Notice to Sue Over Ministry of Health Directive

Kampala – Uganda. Center for Health, Human Rights and Development (CEHURD) on behalf of the Uganda Medical Association (UMA) and the Federation for Uganda Medical lnterns (FUMI), has issued a notice of the intention to sue in response to the Ministry of Health’s directive for medical interns to vacate hospital premises. UMA and FUMI are exercising a constitutional right to carry out industrial action geared at resolving the challenges faced in the day-to-day execution of their work, training, service delivery and welfare. The challenges range from lack of proper supervision, lack of accommodation, poor remuneration and poor working environment, among others.

By virtue of their appointment by the Ministry of Health, medical interns play a vital role as frontline workers in this era of the Covid 19 pandemic. It is therefore inconceivable that the Ministry of Health has resorted to illegally denying the medical interns their constitutional right to practice their trade and complete their medical training.

On 9th August 2021, His Excellency The President of Republic of Uganda following a meeting with the leadership of UMA, directed that the Government addresses the challenges of UMA and FUMI by, among others, enhancing the remuneration of the medical interns.

Unfortunately, instead of fast-tracking the implementation of the presidential directives aimed at resolving the grievances that led to the strike, the Ministry of Health has resorted to irregular, unorthodox and unconstitutional means of resolving a lawful industrial action. Directing medical interns on strike to vacate the hospital premises within one week is not only unacceptable and unjustifiable in a free and democratic society like Uganda, it is also a callous decision.

In light of this, we point out that the directive does not only undermine constitutionally guaranteed fundamental rights and freedoms of medical interns, it also offends the Directive/ Guidance by His Excellency the President of the Republic of Uganda. These actions are also irregular, illegal, arbitrary, high handed and certainly challengeable in the Civil Courts of Law.

Call to action
We call upon the Ministry of Health to recall the directive to the medical interns to leave their stations within two days or else we risk creating a crisis in the delivery of health services.

For more information contact: info@cehurd.org and copy in kenganzi@cehurd.org or call +256 778 723 449

Find the press statement and a copy of this letter attached here.

Human rights activist threatens German govt with lawsuit over its opposition of access to Covid vaccines in low income countries

Moses Mulumba from Uganda threatens the German federal government with a lawsuit if it does not advocate the suspension of the coronavirus patents. medico and ECCHR support him.

With vaccine shortages, millions of people are currently exposed to permanent, preventable health threats. In Uganda, for example, only just under 10 percent of the population are vaccinated, not even 2 per cent of them completely. This shortage could be overcome if vaccine patents were released and production capacities increased more quickly due to their free availability.

This is what the Ugandan human rights activist Moses Mulumba says and has therefore called on the German government to support the demand for the patents to be released – and otherwise threatened with legal action . So far, the federal government has blocked the application to suspend patents from the World Trade Organization. This is possibly unconstitutional and contrary to international law.

Moses Mulumba, Executive Director of Center for Health, Human Rights and Development (CEHURD). COURTESY PHOTO


With a so-called letter of claim, Moses Mulumba, who heads a health and human rights organization in Uganda, calls on the federal government to approve the release of the patents on COVID vaccines and drugs in the upcoming WTO negotiations. If the federal government does not comply with Moses Mulumba’s request, it will face legal proceedings, because “According to international human rights treaties and the UN Charter, Germany is obliged to cooperate internationally as best as possible and to take the most effective, joint measures to combat a global pandemic participate. If Germany continues to fail to vote for a derogation from the TRIPS agreement at the World Trade Organization, The federal government must live up to Moses’ claims and thus its human rights obligations. Intellectual property rights must not take precedence over the human right to health and life, ”says Miriam Saage-Maaß from ECCHR. 

“The corona management of the federal government still in office is often and rightly under criticism. However, it is often forgotten that German government action does not only have national consequences. The federal government has been in charge of blocking the TRIPS waiver for months. And to be clear: It is blocking the central instrument for faster and more cost-effective global production of corona vaccines, which costs human lives and destroys livelihoods, ”says Anne Jung from medico international.

The letter from Moses’ lawyer was served on the Chancellor, the Minister of Health and the Minister of Economic Affairs.

The aid and human rights organization medico international and the ECCHR (European Center for Constitutional and Human Rights) support Mulumba Moses legally and financially in his approach, which is part of an internationally coordinated action.

This article was first published on www.medico.de on November 25th, 2021.

Judiciary Endorses the Need for a Sexuality Education Policy in Uganda

Kampala – Uganda. Center for Health, Human Rights and Development (CEHURD) with joy welcomes the long-awaited ruling from the High Court of Uganda at Kampala in the case of CEHURD vs. Attorney General & Family Life Network [Miscellaneous Cause No. 309 of 2016], commonly referred to as the Comprehensive Sexuality Education case. The High Court agreed with our submissions and the trial judge, Hon. Justice Lydia Mugambe, directed the Ministry of Education and Sports to develop a comprehensive sexuality education policy within two years, among other orders.

Another point of contention in the case was the use of the term, “comprehensive” sexuality education. To this, Hon. Justice Mugambe stated that, “The inclusion or exclusion of the term ‘comprehensive’ is a simple matter of form that should never derail the substance of this process.”

Through this judgement, Hon. Justice Mugambe upheld the fundamental human rights of all Ugandans to access health information on their sexuality.

Background

On the 18th day of November 2016, The Center for Health, Human Rights and Development (CEHURD) filed a case against the Attorney General, challenging the Ministry of Education and Sports’ ban on Comprehensive Sexuality Education (CSE), and their omission and delay to pass a policy on sexuality education as a violation of the right to access information contrary to Article 41 and the right to education contrary to article 30 and 34(2) of the Constitution of the Republic of Uganda, 1995. 

This case was premised on a resolution issued by the Parliament of the Republic of Uganda on 17th August 2016 directing the Ministry of Education and Sports to ban the teaching and training of CSE in Uganda. On 28th November 2016 the Ministry of Gender, Labour and Social Development issued a press statement emphasizing to the public that the ban of CSE in Uganda was applicable in both school and non-school environments. This in effect halted the dissemination of all sexuality education in Uganda, leaving the population prey to unwanted pregnancies, STDs and STIs due to lack of information.

In May 2018, the Ministry of Education and Sports finalized and passed the National Sexuality Education Framework (NSEF) which has never been implemented and actualised, three years since its development.

Uganda, however, committed herself to formulating policies on comprehensive sexuality education in December 2013 under the Ministerial Commitment on Comprehensive Sexuality on sexual and reproductive health services for adolescents and young people in Eastern and Southern Africa (ESA).

Court ruling

The High Court of Uganda through Lady Justice Lydia Mugambe upheld the rights of adolescents and ordered that;

  1. The Government’s inordinate delay and/or omission of over ten years to develop a comprehensive sexuality education policy in Uganda is a violation of Uganda’s obligations under international law and Articles 30,41 and 34(2) of the Constitution; Sections 4 (1) (c), (g) and (i) of the Children (Amendment) Act 2016; and Section 4(1) & (2) of the Education (pre-primary, primary and post primary) Act.
  • The Government of Uganda through the Ministry of Education and Sports should within two years develop a Comprehensive Sexuality Education Policy
  • The Government of Uganda through the Ministry of Education and Sports should identify and work with a breadth of relevant stakeholders and address all issues competently
  • The Attorney General should compile and submit a report to this Court every six months showing progress and implementation of the orders.

Find full Press Statement here

We are hiring!

The Center for Health, Human Rights and Development (CEHURD) currently has a number of exciting career opportunities. The ideal candidates should have commitment to work with a dynamic organisation working on issues of health and human rights. The selected candidates bring their professional skillsets and work with CEHURD’s programmes and/or departments. The candidates will contribute towards the organisation’s strategic plan. The candidates should clearly indicate which of the three positions below they are applying for.

The Positions

Programme Specialist – Health and Human Rights Advocacy: The Programme Specialist, Health and Human Rights Advocacy is responsible for effective, efficient and impactful design and implementation of CEHURD’s advocacy strategy. He/ She will provide expertise in advocacy across all CEHURD’s programmes and departments. He/ She will be required to steer CEHURD’s activities regarding Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights and other emerging issues in health and social justice and align them with the approved advocacy agenda. The incumbent will work with CEHURD staff in finalising the advocacy strategy and designing appropriate advocacy tools and methodologies. He/she will participate in identifying impactful delivery mediums, as well as targeted publics and partnerships with the aim of fulfilling CEHURD’s advocacy goals and objectives.

Programme Specialist – Community Health And Empowerment: The Programme Specialist, Community Health and Empowerment is responsible for effective, efficient and impactful design of CEHURD’s community engagements and ensuring that they meet the organisation’s strategic objectives and advocacy agenda. He/she will lead and provide expertise in programme design, implementation, monitoring and evaluation of outcomes. He/She will lead the process of continuously identifying strategic ways of popularising district and community activities amongst different stakeholders, as well as uplifting national level decisions to community and vice versa.

Programme Associate- Strategic Litigation: The Programme Associate will work under the Strategic Litigation Programme and will be responsible for performing the tasks listed in the job description towards supporting the litigation of human rights cases by CEHURD.

To apply

If you believe you are the ideal candidate, please deliver your Curriculum Vitae, Copies of your academic documents and a cover letter to:

The Human Resources Manager
Center for Health, Human Rights and Development
Plot 4008, Justice Road, Canaan Sites, Nakwero
Gayaza – Kalagi Road

OR Email your application to: info@cehurd.org with a copy to matovu@cehurd.org
The closing date for the receipt of applications is 1st December, 2020. Only shortlisted applicants will be contacted.

Tracking progress towards realization of Health and Reproductive Rights under Maputo protocol

Health has been defined as the complete state of physical, mental and social wellbeing and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.[1] Health as a Human Right gained significance in 1946 when the WHO constitution espoused the fact that the highest attainable standard of health as a human right. Following this bold position by WHO a number of instruments and global convening have gone ahead to including the International Covenent on Economic and Social Cultural Right (1976), International Conference on Population and Development (1994) and the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action (1995). Understanding Health as a Human Right creates a legal obligation on states to ensure access to access to timely, acceptable and affordable health acre of an appropriate quality as well as providing for the underlying determinants of health, such as safe portable water, sanitation, food, housing, health-related information and education, and gender equality.[2] The right to health was also defined in General Comment NO. 14 of the Committee on Economic and Social Cultural Rights, a committee of Independent Experts to include the following core components; availability, accessibility, acceptability, and quality.[3]

The concept of Reproductive health as a component of the right to health promises to play a crucial role in improving health care provision and legal protection for women around the world, it was internationally endorsed by a United Nations Conference in 1994.[4] It is therefore no surprise that the drafters of Maputo Protocol[5] taking cognizance of women’s status and the systemic and structural discrimination especially in the context of their health put in place Article 14 of the Maputo protocol that implores States Parties to respect and promote the right to health of women including their sexual reproductive health. The protocol recognized that women’s rights cannot be fully realized if their rights to health continue to be violated.

The World health Organization Estimates that poor reproductive health accounts for 18% of the global disease burden, and 32%of the total burden of disease for women of reproductive age. It is therefore no surprise that the indicators on sexual reproductive health and right in Africa continue to paint a gleam picture. The indicators particularly remain poor with nearly half of the mothers who die during pregnancy and child birth being from the African Region. African women, have a 1 in 16 chance of dying while giving birth.25 million Africans are infected with HIV with women being increasingly affected with the feminization of the epidemic. Africa is also plagued by a high unmet need for family planning with a rapid population growth often outstripping economic growth and growth of social services thus contributing to a vicious cycle of poverty and ill health. Today by any measure, less than one third of Africans have access to contraceptives. This makes unplanned pregnancies and a resort to unsafe abortions inevitable owing to unplanned and unwanted pregnancies, thus the annual abortion rate for the region is an estimated 34/100 women of reproductive age aged (15-44) and has remained more or less constant between 1990-1994 and 22010-2014[6].

Whereas Article 14 of Maputo Protocol is a key mile stone for Africa women and the realization of their health and reproductive rights, there still exist a number of hindrances preventing women form realizing these rights. These hindrances include the non-ratification of the Protocol by some states, and other states like Uganda and Kenya that have ratified the protocol placed reservations on Article 14. Furthermore retrogressive cultural and religious practices continue to block access by women and girls in Africa to critical SRHR services and information that they require including access to family planning, comprehensive sexuality education and protection from sexual and gender based violence that is driving up STI and HIV infections amongst Africa’s women and girls.

In order to fully reap the benefits of the rights espoused in Article 14 of Maputo protocol, there is need for African States to first of all ratify and then domesticate the protocol unreservedly. Where reservations are put in place, this serves not only a hindrance to access to services but also a gag to policy and programmatic discussions aimed at putting in place interventions aimed at realizing the right to health and reproductive rights of women in Africa. States have to proactively protect the health of women and this will have a positive effect for the development of the state owing to the critical role that women play in the productive sector. As Dr. Mahmoud Fathalla a leading scholar and advocate for women’s health rights stated, “Women are not dying because of diseases we cannot treat, they are dying because societies have yet to make the decision that their lives are worth saving.”


[1] World Health Organization, Factsheet on Frequently Asked Questions, 2018 found at https://who/int/suggestions/faq/en/ accessed on 11th July, 2018

[2] World Health Organization, Fact Sheet on Health and Human Rights 2017, found at http://www.who.int/news-room//fact-sheets/detail/human-rights- and-health accessed on 11th July, 2018

[3]Supra

[4] Rebecca J. Cook.,et al, Reproductive Health and Human Rights: Integrating Medicine, ethics and Law, Oxford University press, 2003, Great Clarendon Street, Oxford, United Kingdom

[5] Protocol to the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights on the Rights of Women in Africa, 2003, 2nd Ordinary session of the Assembly of the African Union, 11th July, 2003

[6] Guttmacher Institute, Abortion in Africa factsheet, 2018. https://www.guttmacher.org/sites/default/files//factsheet/ib_aww-africa.pdf accessed on 11th July, 2018